Cantata Sunday, meditations in between choir anthems


First Anthem:

Glory to God (Luke 2:14):

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace on earth,
goodwill towards men.

Pastor’s words:

That particular choir anthem comes from Luke 2:14.

Luke 2:14 comes from Luke 2:8-14 which reads:

 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

  1. Jesus has been born.
    1. This passage follows the birth of Jesus according to Luke.
    2. Jesus has been born and lain in a feeding trough. Mary and Joseph are the new parents. They are young and most likely scared.
    3. They must be very nervous.
    4. Now, we come to verses 8-14.
  2. Verses 8-14: in verses 8-14 we read about the angels visiting the shepherds.
    1. Shepherds, you know that shepherds were the lowest class? They were disrespected. They were looked down upon. They did the dirty work. They missed out on certain religious events. Yet, the angel comes to shepherds.
    2. Verse 9 says that an angel of the Lord appeared to them. Now, the text actually reads “suddenly” an angel of the Lord came upon them.
      1. Imagine yourself in the middle of a vast opened field and all of a sudden an angel is in front of you.
      2. By the way, this angel was not one of those girly angels you see in paintings or in stores. Angels are not like that. Angels are warriors. Verse 9 says they were terrified.
  • The angel says do not be afraid. I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all people.
  1. Jesus entering the world was good news and great joy. This was good news for all people. This was and is good news for all people. This is news for the shepherds and the Caesars. This was news for the poor and the rich, the privileged and those who are not privileged.
  1. The angels finish their message and then there was a company of angels and they were worshipping God.
  2. Notice that? Notice their response to what is happening. They worship God. They said, “Glory to God in the highest.” You know, I bet they said more than that. I think these shepherds were so overwhelmed that that is all they could understand. These angels worshipped the birth of Christ.
  3. Now, the shepherds, they don’t waste time, they head to Bethlehem.
  4. As these shepherds came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus, I bet that encouraged Joseph and Mary.

Let me pray and then we will hear from the choir again.


And the Glory of the Lord from the Messiah (Isaiah 40:5)

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it
Together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it

Pastor’s words:

There is a term at the end of 1 Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 16:22 and that is Maranatha! Maranatha means: “Our Lord Come.”

I was listening to a cancer survivor and she said “Darn, or, curse, the fall, come Lord Jesus.” 

The previous choir anthem comes from Isaiah 40:5, allow me to place that in context. Let’s read Isaiah 40:1-5:

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah chapter 40 is a chapter of transition. In the previous chapter Isaiah had given prophesies against Israel. Isaiah had said that Babylon was going to take the sons of King Hezekiah as captive. Starting in Isaiah 40 God is encouraging the people.

In verse 3 God talks about A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

In Mark chapter 1 he applies this passage to John the baptizer.  John the baptizer was a voice of one crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the Messiah. John prepared the way for Jesus.

In verse 5 Isaiah is likely talking about the millennial reign. Isaiah was thinking of the millennial kingdom when the Lord will be revealed in His glory, that is, when His unique splendor will be evident everywhere. [1]

How awesome this will be when the glory of the Lord will be revealed! How magnificent! How wondrous!

This will be a joyous occasion.

Actually, Joy to the World was written about a time when Christ was born but also when Christ returns and reigns over the whole earth.

Let’s apply before we move on:

  1. What is most important about this season?
  2. Do we look forward to the coming of Jesus?
    1. Jesus came as a baby, lived, was crucified, rose again, He ascended and He will come again.
    2. Can we say with Paul in 1 Cor. 16:22, Maranatha?
  3. May we have joy because of Jesus.
  4. May we look forward to the glory of the Lord being revealed.

Let’s pray


O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Isaiah 40:9

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain;

O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength;

Lift it up, be not afraid;

Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God![2]

Pastor’s words:

The verse in the previous choir anthem seems to be looking forward to the return of the Jewish exiles and the millennial reign.

Do we have reasons to rejoice? The world appears to be falling apart, but as Christians we have reasons to rejoice. We can also say, “Behold your God”!

I want to reference another hymn, it is called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Do you know the background to that hymn? Listen as I read it:

In 1864, one of America’s great poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote the poem which became the well-known carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. When I first heard this song, I wondered, “Why does he suddenly shift from joy at hearing the Christmas bells into such deep despair?” It starts with:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Then he says:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

The question is clearly answered when we see two verses of the original that are not included in our hymn. In these verses Longfellow speaks of the horrors of the American Civil War that was tearing the country apart. In fact, his son had been seriously wounded in that conflict not long before he wrote the song. (The death of Longfellow’s wife two years earlier may have contributed to his mood too.) Listen to what they say:
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Little wonder he is tempted to despair. And yet he concludes with the resounding affirmation, “God is not dead, nor does he sleep!” Through the Savior whose birth the angels celebrated, God will accomplish what he has promised.

Do we believe that? God has and He WILL accomplish what He promised.

Let’s pray

Choir anthem:



[1] John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1092.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Is 40:9.

2 thoughts on “Cantata Sunday, meditations in between choir anthems

    • The fall is referring to the fall of humanity in Genesis 3. The fall of humanity is when death and diseases entered the world. So, she was saying essentially she hates that we have death and diseases and she looks forward to when Jesus comes again and then everything is renewed and made right. Further, she was really cursing the day death and diseases entered the world in Genesis 3 and looking forward to God fixing things when Jesus comes again. Good to hear from you Jim. God bless and Merry Christmas!

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